I recently came across the article about Toby, Morro Bay High’s beloved therapy dog (“Toby’s death leaves teacher in search of a new therapy dog for Morro Bay High School,” June 6). I was not surprised to read about the many positive effects he had on the students and staff alike.
As a first-year psychology student at Cal Poly, I am studying to become an animal-assisted therapist. I want to raise awareness for this unique type of therapy because I have always known that amazing things happen when a pure-intentioned animal interacts with a broken person, but I’ve never backed up this belief with research. After heavily investigating this topic, I have come to the conclusion that animal-assisted therapy is both effective and valid. Since I hope to use horses in my practice, I was particularly excited to learn that they are used to treat various mental and physical issues, including veterans and others struggling with PTSD.
The best part is that many people may not even need to attend a professional session to receive the benefits animals can provide. Just petting your dog releases calming brain chemicals that reduce blood pressure and heighten your mood. There is just something about animals. They soften our hearts in a way that people often cannot.
Kate Sorel, San Luis Obispo